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Tampa Bay Lightning Season Preview

Tampa Bay Lightning
Photo MARKO DITKUN Tampa Bay Times

The Tampa Bay Lightning open the 2021-22 season raising their Stanley Cup championship banner for the second year in a row, against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bolts look to do what the Penguins were unable to do during their back-to-back run, three-peat. The Lightning dominated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in their latest Stanley Cup run, but with an expansion draft and limited cap space, they were unable to keep the team together, dismantling the lineup that won them back-to-back cups.

The Lines

According to daily faceoff, these are the Tampa Bay Lines. 

First-line – Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov

Second line – Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos, Alex Barre-Boulet

Third line – Ross Colton, Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph 

Fourth line – Patrick Maroon, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Corey Perry 

Losing Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and Tyler Johnson was inevitable due to cap space, and when Yanni Gourde was selected by the Seattle Kraken, the Bolts roster took a bigger blow. 

Brayden Point locked up an 8-year contract extension. Scoring 310 points over 351 NHL games, his versatile play will continue to complement Nikita Kucherovs.

They signed Alex Barre-Boulet to a three-year contract, appearing in 15 NHL games. Winning rookie of the year in the AHL during the 2018-2019 season, scoring 34 goals, Boulet looks to translate that play in the NHL. 

Ross Colton filed for arbitration, ultimately settling on a two-year deal. Scoring the game-winning goal to secure the Stanley Cup, Colton looks to keep the spark in his stride, relentless and gritty on the puck. Mathieu Joseph has been up and down between the NHL and AHL since his rookie debut in 2018. Suiting up for injured Alex Killorn and Barclay Goodrow in six games during the 2021 playoffs, assisting on two goals (his first playoff points). Joseph’s speed ignites rushes into the offensive zone resulting in scoring chances, but he’ll need to learn to put on the breaks when it comes to defense and plays more disciplined. If Colton, Joseph, and Cirelli can acquire chemistry the Lightning’s third line can provide consistent offense and fill the holes their roster suffered in the off-season. 

The Lightning also signed veteran Corey Perry, a shut down two way forward to a two-year contract, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare followed suit. Accompanied by Maroon, the fourth line should provide a shut-down role while generating scoring chances too. 

The Backend

The 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy looks to lead his almost the same defense. 

Victor Hedman and Jan Rutta 

Ryan McDonagh and Erik Cernak 

Mikhail Sergachev and Cal Foote 

The only loss the Bolts suffered on Defense to their starting six during the off-season was Luke Schenn. Cal Foote emulates his father, Adam Foote, in a defensive style. While Foote is slated to be on the last defensive pairing with Sergachev, the Lightning brought back Zach Bogosian, signing him to a three-year deal. Although daily faceoff has Foote in, Bogosian will probably solidify the d-pair as he played a role in their 2020 Championship team. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning added goaltending veteran Brian Elliot, signing him to a one year contract. Although his save percentages were below .900 the last two seasons, Elliot will fill in the backup position when Vasilevskiy needs a night off. Overall the Lightning feel like they have filled their holes lost from their championship team and have the depth again to go for three in a row. 

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